Cash-based assistance is a modality for relief at the household level, considering its advantages in terms of respect of preventative measures for Covid-19 compared with in-kind relief distributions. In light of the increasing use of cash-based assistance, individuals need to be empowered on how to manage and effectively utilize monthly cash-based transfers to meet their urgent food and nutrition needs.

The challenge at hand during the COVID-19 pandemic is to continue developing the capacity of targeted households to make sound financial decisions, without undergoing in-person trainings or group meetings but leveraging appropriate remote learning solutions either temporarily or permanently.

Research provided by the Response Innovation Lab and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) identified three main types of solutions that can be considered to provide financial literacy training to marginalized populations during COVID-19:

  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR): IVR is a technology of automated inbound or outbound phone calls during which users typically respond to multiple-choice questions to access the information they are looking for. It is a useful and affordable survey, evaluation or training tool.
  • SMS-based learning: Training content is broken down in a series of short written messages that includes prompts for the receiver to interact with the content via an automated chat-bot system.
  • Narrow-casting: While broadcasting is the transmission of information to a large group of people and geographic area for instance through radio or television, narrow-casting targets a much more select, defined group and can be done fully offline through devices such as loud-speakers.

Narrow-casting is particularly relevant for reaching most vulnerable members of the community amongst whom a higher prevalence of illiteracy prevails. The content can be translated and made available in a range of different languages. The solution has the potential to reach large numbers of people without relying on individual ownership or access to mobile phones.

This type of on-demand audio-content is well adapted to ensure the targeted audience has access to the learning material over a period of time (rather than one-off) and at a time of convenience, thus allowing more opportunities to digest and understand complex and new messages such as those provided in a financial literacy training. This is advantageous compared with radio-shows with fixed schedules and limited broadcasting time – especially during the Covid-19 response during which there can be competition for airtime (with general school curriculum and Covid-19 preventive messages).

The research report recommends Audiopedia as a narrow-casting solution provider:

Audiopedia, by the NGO Uridu, brings health education and life skills to basic devices (audio players, speaker phones) using an intuitive audiobook player software and keypad navigation.

They have prior experience in rural Ugandan communities (Masaka) as well as other Eastern African countries and Latin America.

They also leverage a crowdsourcing approach to translation in multiple languages. Apart from speaker-devices, their approach can be leveraged on Whatsapp or smart-feature phones.

The full research report can be downloaded here. The reproach report was elaborated by the Response Innovation Lab and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

The Response Innovation Lab is a global collaboration between three leading humanitarian non- governmental organizations (World Vision, Oxfam and Save the Children), and Civic (an international community social impact accelerator). RIL operates Country Labs in Iraq, Jordan, Somalia, Uganda, and Puerto Rico, with a focus on strengthening the innovation ecosystem and connecting challenge-holders and solution-providers across sectors.

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 47 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

Marcel Heyne

About

Founder of Audiopedia and director of URIDU.